Monday, October 25, 2010

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen

Bright Young Things
By Anna Godbersen
2010, HarperCollins, 400 pages

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star.

Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls' fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age.

— description

Well, if this book doesn't make you want to get all dolled up in a low-waisted flapper dress and throw back an Old-Fashioned or two (whiskey + Angostura bitters + water + sugar + soda water + maraschino cherry + orange wedge + twist of lemon), I don't know what will, darlings!

I just wish I'd finished this book with enough time to spare to create a '20s costume for Halloween. Because this book was the cat's pajamas. The real McCoy. The bee's knees.

All right, I'm getting carried away with the slang. But you can tell Godbersen really immersed herself in this stuff, and she swept me away with her. The clandestine affairs, the booze, the gangsters—it was all told with intriguing word choices that seemed so authentically 1920s.

And let's talk about the girls. Astrid, Cordelia and Letty are a strong-willed bunch who made a lot of flighty decisions but still came off as positive leads. These ladies were doing some gutsy stuff. Women in the '20s might have had the right to vote, but it's clear that they were still expected to comply to some pretty strict societal norms. And all three of these main characters pretty much turned their back on that, with varying results. Bravo to them.

There's a sequel in the works, and I can't wait to find out what happens next. In the meantime, I was inspired by Letty and tracked down this 1920s name generator to find out what my stage name would be. I'm Tillie George, of course. You'll see that name in lights someday, dolls.

You might also like: The Luxe, also by Godbersen.

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. Bright Young Things seems really great. I don't think I've seen a negative review for it yet (and I looove this review by the way, so quirky and cool in tone).

    I really like the thought of characters being simultaneously flighty and strong leaders as well :)

    Thanks for the review!

  2. I love this review - it made me grin - love how you've written it kinda in the same flavour as the book!

    I liked this book too.


  3. Dovie Maxie -- that's my 1920's name. Sounds odd to me lol.

    I LOVE the 20's!! and I am so happy to see more books being published based around that time period. It's so much fun to read about. Great review!

  4. I'm OBSESSED with the 1920's. For serious. Why have I not gotten this book yet?!

  5. Fantastic review! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this one.

  6. You've won an award!

    Kate @ Literary Explorations

  7. Godbersen sounds like an amazing author- I've never read her books, but I have heard enough to gather that she successfully writes novels set in other eras. The 20's have always interested me, so this novel definitely sounds appealing. I'm looking forward to picking it up in the future.

    Here on the CEP :)


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